Monday, July 25, 2016

Face the Future with Well Thought-Out Estate Planning

Nobody wants to consider the reality that they will no longer be among the living, but that day comes to all of us. There are a few simple steps all of us can take which will make that day easier on our loved ones to settle our affairs at a time of emotional trauma.

Here is a list of a few helpful actions to ease the path for those who will inherit you:

 1. Create a file and name it “My Estate Plan” and put it in an easily accessible place in your house. Be sure to keep all the papers together in this one file. This file should include a copy of your will, living trusts, end-of-life instructions, real estate records, and more.

 2. Name your executor. This person will be in charge of your estate. Most people name their spouses as their executors, but if this isn’t possible it is usually a child, other close relative, or trusted friend. 

3. Make your executor a co-signer on your financial accounts. Choose a secondary executor just in case something should happen to the primary.

 4. Rent a safe deposit box and keep copies of your estate planning file in it. Make sure that your primary executor is a co-signer for the safe deposit box, and give him/her the key.

 5. Specify what you would like your funeral to look like. Tell your executor what you decided, as well as family and friends.

 6. Be sure to keep your estate plan up-to-date. Revise your will whenever something changes in your life.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Retinal Research Entering a Golden Era

Enjoy this video, produced by The Foundation Fighting Blindness where Louis Kreisberg is the CEO. The video depicts a young woman whose eyesight was restored through gene therapy through the support of the Foundation.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The New Focus on Estate Planning

According to the Wall Street Journal, many families are moving their estate planning focus away from avoiding estate taxes, to minimizing their capital gains tax burdens. Nowadays the federal estate tax is not the biggest worry for affluent people who would like to avoid paying taxes when their heirs inherit their wealth.

This is in contrast to how it was during the past ten years. Back in 2004, those with over $1.5 million in assets wishing to pass on their wealth after death, or who made gifts above that limit during their lifetimes, had to pay taxes at the top rate which was close to 50 percent. Married couples were forced to set up trust funds in order to benefit from the full $3 million exemption they were entitled to.

Adding to the complexity of planning was the fact that the tax burden kept changing every year. In fact, in 2010 the tax was completely gone, making it extremely difficult to plan for the future.

Last year Congress changed the estate tax law. Today the top estate-and-gift tax rate is set at a maximum of 40 percent and the exemption was changed to $5 million, with adjustments to take into account inflation, so that today’s exemption comes to $5.34 million. In addition, couples do not need to set up trusts to get the full benefit they are entitled to.

Now that individuals do not have to be so concerned with estate taxes, they can reap meaningful tax savings on capital gains by choosing smartly which assets to hold until death.